CHORA: Forms of Life
Elizabeth Burns Gamard

The following essay on >chora< results from questions regarding an array of >dialectical< concerns pertaining to genesis and creation, substance and energy, inspiration and application, space and form, and—last but certainly not least—reason and intuition. Though one may perhaps argue the relevance of these concerns for the profession of architecture, individuals involved with architectural education ( >practices< unto themselves perhaps) would no doubt countenance the significance—and necessity—of an inquiry into the nature of the creative impulse. In the formulation and institutionalization of architectural education from the Enlightenment forward, the reigning pedagogical paradigm has been and continues to be the pursuit of a »Virgilean dream«.i2 Indeed, dreams of reason haunt the entirety of architecture's edifice, providing not only the foundation and structure for all inquiry, but prepossessing its image as well. But as Dante Alighieri counters, the simple-minded pursuit of reason, replete with self-reflexive, transparent logics and truth-claims, generates little substance and energy, casting no shadow on the threshold of life. While clearly indispensable in the formation of ideologies and clarity — and hence fundamental to academic pedagogy — reason's requisites and results only get us so far. In the Modern and Post-modern age, there have repeated attempts to find recourse to reason's dictates. This has been the case not only in architectural education, but in intellectual endeavor as a whole. Spurred on by the increasing recognition of rationalism's excesses. Romanticism — in the guise of organicism, naturalism, intuitionism, surrealism and dada among other movements — has sought to remedy the problem, if only by introducing critical >antidotes< to what is perceived by many to be the tendency for reason to countervene >life.< ii This exegesis revisits many of these questions in kaleidoscopic fashion. It has been written as a series of loosely orchestrated 'movements' which, when gathered together, profess an intellectual journey not unlike Dante's, though lacking — unfortunately — the wondrous bounty of his poetic vision. I must leave that to the manifold and rich voices I have the pleasure to invoke.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/jea.v2n2a11